How it's like to go to Stanford, at least as an undergrad:
There is this thing we have called the Duck Syndrome. Basically, you see this serene-looking duck gliding on the surface of a lake, and you think, ah, duckies! Woot. And how relaxed and gracefully it moves across the lake, doing these number 8s
while those tiny little legs are kicking FURIOUSly under the water.
So on the surface you have the kids running around throwing frisbees shirtless on the lawns, mucking around with the band on their band runs, partying hard on weekends, and then you go to Green library, and you see the same frat boy who was doing that amazing keg stand giving you a sober nod as you walk by, as he tries to grind thinner the right side of his open engineering textbook.
It's sad, really. You have all these ex-nerds who spend all of their freshman year trying to master the art of drinking and coming off as cool or wacky college kids, but they all know deep down who their daddy is. It's that problem set due next week, or midterm or final, or final project, or whatever. So you go through these four years looking around you at this sort of thin experience that's not exactly college and not exacty grad school. No one's totally into anything, so the parties are halfway ok but end way too early, the kids care enough to do well-enough in tests to make the grading curve annoying, but not enough to remember what happened once the next quarter rolls in. Palo Alto, the surrounding city, also sucks. A bourgeois stretch of road leading out of campus that's nothing but wall-to-wall expensive restaurants and exotic furniture stores, and maybe two bars that are so lame even the fizzy cocktails can't sparkle, and the alcohol will only make you sad drunk.
Like I said, it's a thin, mildly-offputting Kafkaesque experience. But if you do end up going to Stanford, I highly recommend hanging out with the international students. You can say they're the Stanford rich kids who actually know how to spend money in interesting ways, if you're international too (yay me) they're the ones who will hang out with you in the airports of connecting flights or fuck it, our flights leave in about four hours, let's see what Zurich's up to, the ones that host soirees not parties in their off-campus houses, the ones who know how to get a hold of the more interesting drugs like molly and blow, why lie, these are cool kids. Also fun are the hipsters and assorted artsy types, but sure to bring along your irony for a fun time. The football players are also neat too.
OK, I can't knock it too much, I had fun. Just don't expect the experience to make itself, you've got to get in there and make it happen for yourself.